Monday, October 17, 2016

October 16: Brain Weary, Normal Life, Classic Saint Marty

I just got back from the Kalahari's indoor amusement park.  My kids are beat, and my wife is exhausted.  I spent most of today grading a stack of essays and watching my daughter dance.  Then I went to the water park with my son.  The night ended with me on top of the Ferris wheel with my wife and daughter.

My brain is weary.  Really weary.  And I have a long day of driving tomorrow.  I'm not looking forward to the end of this weekend.  It means a return to all the worries and headaches of normal life, with no breaks until Thanksgiving time. 

That's about all I have tonight.  My brain has already gone to bed.  Tonight's episode of Classic Saint Marty first aired two years ago, when my brain was awake.

October 16, 2014:  A Lamb, Bullying, Stephen King's Carrie

"You smell just the way you are," remarked a lamb who had just walked in.  "I can smell you from here.  You're the smelliest creature in the place."

Creatures of the sheep persuasion are not very nice in Charlotte's Web.  In fact, they tend to be bullies.  It's the sheep that tells Wilbur about the Christmas conspiracy of turning him into smoked bacon and ham.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree with the lamb, either.  For some reason, because they provide Zuckerman with wool, all the sheep tend to be a little...elitist, for lack of a better word.  They think they're above all the other animals in the barn.

I've been thinking a lot about bullying recently.  Earlier this week, I saw a PBS documentary on the subject.  I just browsed the news on Google, and there was a story of a twelve-year-old girl who committed suicide because classmates posted comments like this online:  "Why don't you drink bleach and die."  And, of course, there's the whole issue of my six-year-old son punching kids on the school playground during recess.

It doesn't help that I'm also rereading Stephen King's Carrie at the moment.  It's the ultimate bully revenge tale.  Carrie White going on a telekinetic killing spree after being pushed over the edge by a group of "popular" girls.  There's something very satisfying about Carrie's actions.  I'm not saying I agree with the mass extermination of all school bullies, but, in the context of King's novel, I root for Carrie, even as she is transformed into a blood-covered nightmare.

I don't want my son to be a bully.  Every time he gets in trouble at school for punching or scratching a classmate on the playground, I tell him, "You know, one of these days, you're going to punch the wrong person, and that person is going to punch back.  Hard."  I'd like to add, "And you better hope that person can't lift and throw Volkswagens with his mind."  But I haven't played that card yet.

I've known a few Carries in my lifetime.  People who skulk around the fringe of life, hoping not to draw attention to themselves.  They're quiet.  Sometimes bookish.  Always, they look as though they're ready to flinch or duck.  That's the result of getting hit by too many dodgeballs in gym class.  Carries simply want to blend in.

Stephen King published Carrie in the early 1970s.  It is now 2014.  Forty-four years later, the book is still relevant because there are still Carries and bullies.  Our world is a broken place.  A place where terrible things happen sometimes.  School shootings.  Suicide bombings.  Cruelty is as common as brown eyes.

I've made mistakes in my life.  Participated in bullying through silence.  It's easy to do.  Just turn your back and pretend that Carrie isn't covered in pig's blood, and that love and compassion are stronger than dodgeballs. Basically, lie to yourself.  Dodgeballs hurt.  Always.

So tonight, Saint Marty hopes everybody who reads this post will speak up for all the Carries out there.  Be part of the solution, people.

Don't be part of the problem

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